- 30 May 08, 11:08 GMT
The name of the game at the Google developers conference in San Francisco was 'free.'
The App Engine, which was just launched six weeks ago and has had developers clamouring to use it, is now being opened up to everyone and is free. The new version of the web tool kit is free. Gears is for nothing. Google Earth, nada. And Android, the mobile software platform also at no cost down.
So while most of the booty really is free as part of the company's commitment to open source, there are one or two wee fly efforts to wheedle money out of people.
For a start from the end of the year, developers will have to pay to use the App Engine if they go over a certain number of page views.
Granted Google reckons the costs will be around $40 (£20) a month and that's not mega bucks in the huge scheme of things. But that's a possible $1.4 million (£750,000) from the 3000 people who went to Google IO. Surely every little counts even for a billion dollar company?
I liked the way the technical lead for the project Kevin Gibbs said that Google had been listening to developers and what they were hearing was that people 'wanted' to pay to use the App Engine. Really???
Let's look at Android and how Google will monetize that platform.
The demo phone had everyone buzzing. It looked a lot like the iPhone with its touch screen and cool apps that let you do everything from play Pac Man to drawing a specific shape on the screen to unlock the phone instead of using a password.
Questions put to tech lead Andy Rubin in a journalists q and a that this was a shot across Apple's bows were shrugged off because he claimed Android could also have the trackball facility just like the Blackberry. He also said that Google wouldn't be making the actual device and that they are giving away all the software.
Mind you the company's vp of engineering, Vic Gundotra did admit that the iPhone was something to behold and that he "is a slave to Apple products and willingly opens his wallet every time Steve Jobs comes out with something new."
Not too long to wait Vic. Put Apple's developer conference on June the 9th on your Google calendar.
Back to the money part because Google is working aggressively on building infrastructure to sell ads on mobile phones, including those using Android. And with mobile devices being talked up as the next big thing it also represents another platform for Google to try and dominate.
I don't mean to sound churlish but let's not forget that behind this mantra of giving back to the community, Vic Gundotra openly admitted that one of the reasons Google invests in things "is if it benefits Google economically." Fair dues.
By and large though this conference certainly did seem to be a homage to the idea of free, even if attendees had to pay $400 (£200) to get in. It's Google's biggest developers' shindig to date and the first time the company has charged people. But for the money, there was a whole lot of free.
Besides the t-shirts which came with the price of entry might be a collectors item one day. The pattern was meant to spell out Google IO in binary, but it actually spelled out Google KO.
It's kind of good to know Google fouls up now and then. Still I have to tell you in all the years of going to conferences, this one was a haven of cool.
From the start of the day to the end of the day, there was a truck load of free food. You could choose to gorge on free sandwiches, pastries and fresh fruit at any time of the day or nip into the grill room, texicali or deli rooms.
Sodas, candy, crisps or chips as they are known here, were free. There was other free swag like tote bags and water bottles.
WiFi was free and so was a big whoop up party that included games, booze and music from a New Zealand band called the Flight of the Conchords.
In between conference sessions, you could play pool or football or just catch up on your Gmail while relaxing on one of the colourful beanbags.
And the total icing on the cake was the relaxation zone where Alexa and Karla took care of easing the stresses and strains of your day by giving you a good chair massage.
Both are full time Google massage therapists yet alas haven't worked out the knots and kinks in Sergey or Larry's shoulders.
If you ever wanted to know what working for Google was like, then this conference was the place to be.
Note to conference organisers, massage therapists are the total killer app!
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